Search-Based Drama Management in the Interactive Fiction Anchorhead

Mark J. Nelson and Michael Mateas

Drama managers guide a user through a story experience by modifying the experience in reaction to the user’s actions. Search-based drama management (SBDM) casts the dramamanagement problem as a search problem: Given a set of plot points, a set of actions the drama manager can take, and an evaluation of story quality, search can be used to optimize the user’s experience. SBDM was first investigated by Peter Weyhrauch in 1997, but little explored since. We return to SBDM to investigate algorithmic and authorship issues, including the extension of SBDM to different kinds of stories, especially stories with subplots and multiple endings, and issues of scalability. In this paper we report on experiments applying SBDM to an abstract story search space based on the text-based interactive fiction Anchorhead. We describe the features employed by the story evaluation function, investigate design issues in the selection of a set of drama management actions, and report results for drama managed versus unmanaged stories for a simulated random user.


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